It haunts him still, I can tell.
He left three years ago & still he speaks to
me in Mandinka, weaves me stories wrapped
in rich history about the Pulaar people, his eyes
light up like the Fourth of July when he tells
his 7th grade history students
about how he didn’t have electricity
(didn’t need it, the stars were so bright)
& about waking up to the sound of morning
prayer (he can recite it, sing it from
memory). He wanted to stay forever &
then he met me, moved back to the
land of Walmart Supercenters
& people that walk by you
without saying anything,
without even looking you in the eyes.
I know he wants to go back &
so I try to convince him
that we should visit Senegal for
vacation, eat ceebu jen & yassa,
talk to the women at market, greet
& remember. His eyes darken &
something inside him hardens a little,
calcifies. I won’t be a tourist, he says.
His heart will only accept Africa as home.
He is my home, but the walls feel all wrong,
much too big & wanting.

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Emily Adams-Aucoin writes from South Louisiana where she works as a middle school English teacher and licensed massage therapist. Her poetry has been published in the December 2017 issue of After the Pause.